Dorgan is hopeful for accordGRAND FORKS — Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said Thursday during an appearance here that he hopes an agreement on the stalled farm bill will be reached soon.
By: By Ryan Schuster, Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said Thursday during an appearance here that he hopes an agreement on the stalled farm bill will be reached soon.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” Dorgan said during an interview. “This has been difficult to predict.”
Dorgan told a room full of farmers at the International Crop Expo in the Alerus Center how important it is that an accord be reached before the current extended farm bill expires on March 15.
Dorgan said if an agreement is not reached by March 15, the current farm bill will be extended further, but he hopes only a short extension would be needed. He said it is important that a new farm bill is enacted before the end of the year.
“That would be failure,” Dorgan said. “We need to get it done.”
Dorgan admitted the experience has been frustrating and difficult in light of record prices for many crops. He said members of Congress are attempting to iron out the differences between bills passed by the House and Senate and come to an agreement with the White House.
“I hope the president will be reasonable,” Dorgan said. “He’s been fairly unreasonable. We’ll try to get a bill he will sign. If not, I hope we get enough votes to override his veto.”
Dorgan visited the USDA’s Grand Forks Nutrition Research Center on Thursday. He plans to fight a Bush administration recommendation to close the facility. He also talked to a public policy class at UND, visited with students at Larimore (N.D.) High School and made two stops in Fargo.
Eliminating farm program payments to many non-farmers is a key part of the new farm bill legislation, Dorgan told the group of farmers.
“We have people living on land that hasn’t had a crop in 20 years getting farm program payments every year,” Dorgan said. “That just isn’t right. That’s what we wanted to shut down.
“It was radical for us to say, ‘You need to be involved in farming to get a farm program payment,’” Dorgan said of the reaction of many members of Congress who live in Southern states that have benefited from some of the same payments.
Dorgan said another key component of the new farm bill is a disaster fund safety net to aid farmers when crops are destroyed by weather.
“That’s very important,” he said. “We’ve been without (a disaster provision) for about a dozen years.”
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